We are now inside a week until the MLB Draft, and the Red Sox projections have been somewhat all over the place at number 17. Sometimes it can be helpful to look back at previous drafts to get an idea of what could happen in the future, but that isn’t really the case this year for a couple of reasons. One, the front office has changed a bit. A lot of the key people are still involved and Chaim Bloom alone won’t change too too much in the draft process, but there is a difference in leadership. More importantly, this simply isn’t a normal draft year. That being said, it’s still always fun to me to look back at recent drafts and see how things look with a bit of hindsight. So, over the next five days we’ll be looking at the five most recent drafts, with 2016 at the center today. We’ll look at picks from the first five rounds, plus the best hitters and pitchers from beyond those rounds.
Jay Groome, Barnegat HS (NJ)
There was a point leading up to the draft in the spring of 2016 where there was some speculation that Groome could be in consideration for the number one overall selection and he was still ranked third on Baseball America’s rankings. He would move down draft boards as the spring went on for signability and makeup concerns, and the Red Sox caught a somewhat unexpected break when he fell to them at number 12 overall. Boston didn’t let the lefty fall any further. Since entering the organization, of course, things have not really gone according to plan as he has been inconsistent when on the mound, and that’s at least partially due to the fact that he’s just had trouble staying on the mound at all. Groome has tossed a total of just 66 innings since being drafted in 2016, and while he’s still only 21 and still has big upside, at some point he has to stay on the mound and perform there. This season was going to be a big one for him, and he’s arguably the most negatively affected in the entire system by having the 2020 minor-league season almost certainly being cancelled.
C.J. Chatham, Florida Atlantic University
After picking Groome in the first round, the Red Sox were going to need to find some ways to save money with some later picks as they knew the lefty would require an over-slot bonus. That led to the selection of Chatham, who was a little bit of a reach at number 51, coming in ranked at number 101 on BA’s rankings. That is not to say there was nothing to like about him, though. Coming out of college he was seen as a contact-oriented shortstop with a chance to stick at the position. Fast forward to the present day, Chatham is on the 40-man roster, can play shortstop and second base and still has those contact skills. He’s likely a bench player at the highest level, particularly on a good team, but he can be quite valuable in that role if he keeps making contact, and there’s even room for growth if he can draw some more walks.
Shaun Anderson, University of Florida
The Red Sox went back to the college well with their third selection as well, and Anderson is another player who was picked well before his BA ranking. He was number 151 on that list and was selected with the 88th overall pick. The righty spent his college career in the Gators’ bullpen, but that was more because Florida’s rotation was loaded than his profile. The Red Sox drafted Anderson with every intention to put him back in the rotation. He was having a solid year in 2017, his first full season as a pro, but he wouldn’t be in the organization for long as he was sent to San Francisco for Eduardo Núñez that summer. Núñez helped spark the Red Sox to a division title that year, while Anderson made his major-league debut with the Giants last year. He struggled a bit in that first taste, and he’s in the mix at the back of their rotation for 2020, too.
Bobby Dalbec, University of Arizona
Dalbec was a two-way player in college, showing off power at the plate and on the mound. Pitching in the College World Series the spring before he was draft, the Wildcats wore him into the ground. Boston ended up taking him with the 118th overall pick, which happened to be exactly where BA ranked him. The Red Sox opted to keep the bat in Dalbec’s hands after being drafted rather than giving him a chance to develop further on the mound, and it has certainly worked out. He certainly has his obvious problems making contact, but we know that’s simply not as important in today’s game. If you can draw walks and hit for power consistently, you can maintain a relatively high strikeout rate. He made a big step with that contact last season, too, and is now on the cusp of the majors and could be the first baseman of the near-future.
Mike Shawaryn, University of Maryland
The Red Sox continued to go into the college ranks with their fifth selection as well, and Shawaryn ended up being their second best prospect in terms of BA rank. He came in at number 77 on those rankings and the Red Sox nabbed him with the number 148 overall pick. The former Terrapins ace had a bit of a down spring leading up to this draft which caused him to slide a bit, but he turned things around towards the end of that season. He made his way through the Red Sox system relatively quickly, but he just hasn’t developed as needed to be a major-league starter. There’s still a chance for him to be a useful pitcher in middle relief, particularly as someone who can go multiple innings.
Santiago Espinal, 10th Round, Miami-Dade College
This draft was highlighted more by the top five picks, with not a whole lot of note coming after this. Espinal is really the only hitter of note being selected in this entire class beyond Chatham and Dalbec. Espinal was more solid than good or great with the Red Sox, but he was used to acquire Steve Pearce in 2018. Espinal is developing well in Toronto, but I think Boston is okay with how that deal turned out.
Kyle Hart, 19th Round, Indiana University
Stephen Nogosek, 6th Round, University of Oregon
There were two pitchers of note taken after the first five rounds for Boston in this draft. Hart has been under the radar since the moment he was drafted, but he’s on the cusp of the majors and on the 40-man. This stuff is underwhelming, but he has solid command and that can help the stuff play up. He’s rotation depth already and could turn into a solid number five. Nogosek was a reliever through and through when he was drafted, and the Red Sox kept him there. Like Anderson, he was quickly shipped out in the summer of 2017. Nogosek went to the Mets in the Addison Reed trade, and he’s still in New York. He made his major-league debut last season.